When a relative from Italy came to visit America, he asked “Why is everyone in America giving away gluten?” This was his interpretation of GLUTEN FREE listed in every store window.
It is no doubt that gluten free has become a major health fad throughout the country within the last few years. Pizzerias, bakeries, and major food chains are now incorporating the change into their menus.
Many people are now wondering how eliminating gluten could possibly help them.
Here is a brief summary of my thoughts on gluten elimination and autoimmune disease. In short, my professional opinion is that everyone diagnosed with an autoimmune disease should try a 3-6 month gluten elimination. First, celiac disease has a high concomitance with many autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s, myositis, and lupus, to name a few. Even the patients who test negative for pure celiac disease may still have a gluten intolerance. This means that there may be a different kind of immune response to gluten separate from that of the celiac immune response. To put it simply, people with celiac disease make an IgA type of antibody to gluten, while those with an intolerance create an IgG type of antibody. At ArthroWell Naturopathic, we test these IgG antibodies to gluten, but sometimes a trial elimination is the best way to determine if an intolerance is present since lab tests are never 100% accurate.
But why are these gluten IgG antibodies a problem? A recent 2013 journal article explains a new theory of autoimmune disease as a dysfunctional response of the body when it is overwhelmed by antigens. In plain English, this means that the body starts to attack itself when it is constantly bombarded with immune insults. Over time the body may “get confused” with this constant bombardment and eventually “think” that its own tissues are “bad guys.” When someone makes antibodies to gluten, which is present in nearly every food product consumed in the Standard American Diet, the immune system becomes bombarded. This constant IgG reaction to gluten, occurring 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, could potentially cause the immune system to “go haywire” in someone who is genetically susceptible. Thus, removing antigen load is a key intervention in autoimmune management. Ultimately, removing gluten can remove a major obstacle to cure.
At ArthroWell Naturopathic, we test IgG responses to foods on patients with autoimmune disease. We consider it an imperative part of the management, but it is just one part of our extensive protocol. There are many environmental antigens to consider in autoimmune disease, and gluten is just one of many. However, a gluten elimination can be a major step in the right direction towards reducing chronic inflammation.